Tag Archives: The Interknit

A largely parenthetical post

Mike just dropped off the copy of son of Stitch ‘n’ Bitch that I won from a Y Knit contest. And it’s signed by Debbie Stoller!

I’m not sure what my favorite part of the whole exercise was: meeting another Internet knitter (I *heart* all of them), meeting a knitting podcaster (I’m a podcasting early adopter, so it’s always been a little glamorous to me), realizing how extremely local he is (we’re both Easy Bay residents), reading Mike’s Moo card that was tucked into it (man, I love those things) or entering the book into my Ravelry library.

Sweet! I love it when the Internet crosses over into real life. It’s a little awkward in the dating world, but freakin’ great when it comes to hobbies.

A corner of the chart for Torque, which has been eating my life.

Anyway, in usual me fashion, I’m being eaten alive by one of my designs, which I’ve named “Torque.” (And no, I don’t give a damn that there’s already a knitted “Torque” out there; I like the name, and it’s not like anyone could confuse my fingerless gloves with a split-neck pullover. I mean, I guess they could, but if they did they’d have far greater problems than how much yarn to buy, y’know?)

I have a habit of making patterns way more complicated for myself than they need to be, in the hopes of making the knitting process a little more graceful for the end user. The end result may look effortless, but they sure as hell aren’t that way to make, and even knitting it can do pleasantly weird things to your head (as a certain early adopter of my Double Dutch hat can attest). I had a feeling, though, that there was a way to get the thumb gusset on Torque to flow properly in a reasonably easy way, and all it took was a month of frustration and determination to come up with something. And now I’ve got to figure out how to do it all over again … backward. With cables on every other row.

I’ve been knitting bits of this one every night for a week, and stealing time at work to try to puzzle it out. Unfortunately, the first thumb gusset was one of those solutions that comes rippling out of my fingers in such an effortless, intuitive wave that I’m convinced I’m a total genius by the time it’s done. When it came time to do the other one, though, I got the mental version of the blue screen of death. My spatial skills are getting better as I grow older, but staring at my transcription and trying to visualize the mirror image of whatever contorted logic I was playing with gave my brain that horrible blank gray feeling just behind my forehead, in the same place that feels funny when I cross my eyes.

Fortunately, graph paper can solve pretty much any problem, from mapping things (all the straight lines are right there on the page!) to relationship problems (stuff enough graph paper into the other person’s mouth, and you’ll no longer have to put up with their crap) to world hunger (which’ll work as soon as humans learn how to digest cellulose). I charted and charted until I had a good, solid understanding of how the shaping worked and how to mirror it. It took about three evenings of drawing, doodling, erasing, reknitting and cursing to get it right. It also helped that I was all fired up about what is possibly the best notebook ever: Mead #09000, a composition book with half-graph-paper, half-ruled pages that looks like it floated right out of 1966.

My goal is to have the pattern in beta by Tuesday so I can get a couple copies to some test knitters at my stitch ‘n’ bitch. I can’t wait, because I’m really excited about the photography and layout work for it, and then selling the pattern through Ravelry. Also, I’d, um, like to have my life back.

Put that in a box and stamp it

Yesterday I sent a project kit for my Double Dutch hat to Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed. You know what that means?

CallaIt means I’m FAMOUS!

Har. Actually, what it means is that the pattern’s really, really done.

As soon as I finished the first Double Dutch hat, I wished I could get one to Flood, because it seemed like something he’d like. He taps into the things I love about knitting — tradition, invention, love for quality materials, subdued but rich color and texture, and freakin’ great photos. In a world swamped with painfully twee knitting, I found a voice that sounded a little like my own, except that I use loads of exclamation points. (Hey, I’m working on it.) Hearing voices kinda like mine reminded me I do have my own voice.

And it isn’t a long stretch from finding my own voice to using it. I’ve got a bunch of patterns in various stages of completion, I’ve signed up to sell patterns on Ravelry and I’ve stopped doing the “aww, shucks” routine quite so hard when someone compliments something I do — not just with knitting, either.

Tucking the yarn into a priority mail box with the pattern and a quick handwritten note felt like really finishing something. I’m learning how to extend my reach, y’know? Now I’m not going back.

Now if only I could learn how not to sound like a raging fangirl when I e-mail my idols.

I want your socks!

No, really. I have an idea for a very stupid Burning Man project that involves large-scale knitting: giant socks. Big enough to crawl into, like sleeping bags.

I need materials, and instead of buying a bunch of new crap, I’d rather use materials that aren’t being used anyway. And, in a really perfect solution, I hit on the idea of using old socks.

So … got any mismatched socks? Socks with holes? Get in touch with me (my e-mail is arletterocks [at] gmail [dot] com) and I’ll take ’em off your hands.

Only one way to find out

There are a few areas of my life that I’d like to push:

  • Knitwear design
  • Information design
  • Complex design projects for print & Web
  • Product/portrait photography
  • Being a better boss and manager to myself
  • Hitting deadlines
  • Finding, feeding and creating independent media

So the obvious conclusion is that I should create and publish a book of knitting patterns.

The idea scares the snot out of me … which is exactly why it’s so appealing. And, thanks to things like Lulu and the booming prosumer camera market, it’s also entirely feasible.

Maybe something like this is beyond my reach. Then again, maybe a project this big will extend my reach. Only one way to find out, right?

Yay! Ravelry!

I just got my Ravelry invite! And, crazily enough, I’m already listed as a designer, even if nobody’s actually done anything with the one pattern that’s up there. Sweet!

Anyway, if you’re on Ravelry, too, come find me! I’m listed as arlette, of course — not a lot of competition for that name.

New Knitty reminds me that I am an utter slacker

The new Knitty’s out, and it’s making me realize how predictable I am.

Cherie Amour, Knitty fall '07
Ooh, pretty! I like the tunic length, the deep, deep V-neck and the draping sleeves. Plus, the shape is definitely very ’60s, which is always a hit with me.

Cherie Amour is beautiful, very likely will be one of my next projects and as my buddy Sonya pointed out, looks a whole lot like the sweater I’m already knitting (and have been knitting since spring). Oops.

Henry is my other favorite, and it is 1. herringbone, like the skirt I am wearing at this very moment, and 2. identical in texture to a jacket I already own. Fortunately, the awesome new boyfriend’s birthday is in January, and he’s definitely a scarf-wearer who thinks my alchemical skill in turning yarn into cool wearables is downright magic!

But overall, the new Knitty is more of the same. That “same” is pretty awesome, though, which makes me think that I’m bored with the designs because of me, not them. Once my room is tamed and once I’m not jetting off every single weekend to a different destination, I’ll be booking one day a week for knitting and working on my own stuff. The sweet new Internet job is great ‘n’ all but it hasn’t supplanted the need to design, and the lust to be a designer of some sort hasn’t abated.

Before I can do that, though, I obviously need to rustle up some self-discipline. It’s easy having a job where people tell me what to do all day. It’s a whole lot harder for me to keep myself focused, and to set and hit deadlines. I beat myself up all the time for being a slacker, when I know I’m capable of generating massive amounts of ideas, energy and work, and I can do amazing things when I harness them. I refuse to believe that self-direction is innate; anyone got any ideas on how to foster it as a grown-up?

Sweater moves forward

In the spirit of the Bible — that’s Strunk & White’s Elements of Style to this long-lapsed Catholic — I’ve decided it’s time to eliminate unnecessary words. The two candidates I’m axing, at least for a while, are “just” (in any sense other than “fair”) and “progress.” It’s too easy to use “just” as a qualifier or weakener (“I’m just thinking that …” or “It’s just that …”) and it’s lazy writing.

“Progress” is lazy writing, too, especially on a knitting blog. People use it when they haven’t hit any major hurdles or fumbled themselves into hilarious screw-ups, but haven’t done anything impressive enough to warrant a photo. Ergo … progress. Boring. You know what? That’s what progress bars are for. So, from now on, no more progress.

I mean, no more “progress,” in quotes. No-quotes-progress is still cool — don’t want to jinx myself.

Designer driver

I’m looking the pattern my brioche-stitch hat for Bella Knitting, and can I just say EEEEE! I feel so official!

And at our meeting on Wednesday, Laura asked me to come up with a summery brioche-stitch shell. I’d already been plotting one in my head anyway, so I’d just like to say EEEEEE! A commission! I feel like a designer!

I have an odd history with design. If you look at the Knitter’s Geek Code on my “About” page, you’ll spot this:


It basically means “Strong interest in design; hope to make money at it/go pro.” I hesitated when I put it into my Geek Code because it seemed like such a dopey fantasy. Yeah, yeah, everyone wants to be a designer — except for me. I have been preaching about how stupid it is since I was very, very small.

Except I was a total liar. I flat-out refused to play with Barbie, but there was one toy I stole constantly from my sisters: the fashion kit. There was this little plastic plate with a relief outline of Barbie on it, and you’d put a piece of paper over it, scrape your pencil over it and get an outline of a Barbie. You could swap in different plates with different clothes to create new looks, but I’d always pick the plainest clothes so I could draw my own fashions. I loved it and would never, ever admit it.

I have sketchbooks full of scribbles about clothes I wanted to make — kind of a crazy mash-up of 1960s Mod, Motown, and Op Art with 18th- and 19th-century men’s fashion. (Yes, the movie Velvet Goldmine makes me squeal with delight. The clothes! The music! Ewan McGregor and Jonathan Rhys Myers with no clothes on!) Miniskirts, jewel tones, military tailoring, long coats, go-go boots and high-contrast floral and geometric prints make me swoon. (Sarah and I got to nerd about about clothes the other day — bliss!)

And you know what? There just isn’t too much of that running around in the fashion world, and even less in the knitting arena. But my take is, if you don’t like your world, change it. If you don’t know how, then learn.

I’m nearing the end of the third hank of Cash Iroha on the Stitch Diva bodice. Everything’s going great, the Cash Iroha feels like amazing (once I pick the occasional little jagged bits out of it) and I am going stir crazy. I want to make my own damn sweater! The only reason I’m slogging through other people’s patterns is so I can learn about construction, and then I’m off. I figure one more top-down sweater, maybe with saddle shoulders (man I love those) and then a couple with set-in sleeves, and then I am gonna take over the damn world.

Oh, and I have to make a Tubey, because it is adorable and looks like a quick knit. It’s also styled like the vintage clothes I love. I am a sucker for a good neckline, and Tubey is it!

I’ve also shelled out seven bucks for the Stitch Diva Sahara pattern. I noticed it had set-in sleeves that are picked up around the armhole and shaped with short rows, and I am intrigued. I have a pile of unbelievably sexy, slippery, glossy Egyptian cotton that I bought to make a skirt drawstring before I realized I wouldn’t be caught dead in hippie gear. I’ve been picking it up and turning it over every couple of months, wondering what it should become instead, and I think this is it.

Stitch Diva: SaharaSahara, modeled by a pod person on Venus

Just one thing: I love the pattern (cleavage central!), but the photos creep me out. They Photoshop their photos to the point where the models no longer look human. There’s this trick in photo editing where you can gently blur a person’s skin while you leave the eyes nice and sharp. When it’s done with subtlety, it gives the skin a nice, smooth, even tone without looking blatantly soft-focus. When it’s done badly, as it is with a whole lot of production photography, the models look like poreless, rubbery pod people. Plus the colors are totally out of whack! The models look like they’re standing on a different planet with a sulfur sky and lakes of roiling acid. I get that the one photo here is supposed to look like it was shot at sunset, but what color is the sun — green?!

I’ve been eyeballing this pattern ever since it came out a few months ago, but it never occurred to me to buy it until I saw a snapshot of it on a regular person. I’m all about photography and digital retouching, but it’s a little hard trying to visualize yourself in a knit pattern when you can’t stop thinking about how the model looks like she’s too busy receiving messages from space to notice her human costume is starting to melt off.

The verdict: gorgeous pattern, beautiful model, totally readable and well-organized pattern, and post-production that would look right at home being mocked by Mystery Science Theater 3000. But the part that really counts is this: I can’t wait to knit it!

Nude crochet: Now with fig leaves!

Can you believe it? The public needs little crocheted fig leaves to protect them from crocheted genitalia.

Crochet art by Ming Yi Sung Zaleski

Jacquelyn Martin, Associated Press

A piece from “Not the Knitting You Know” by Ming Yi Sung Zaleski

Exhibit of crocheted nudes returns – with crocheted fig leaves
“‘Public Art Private Parts” has returned to Washington, D.C. — only this time, the exhibit of completely crocheted pieces is drawing stares, giggles and even buyers instead of complaints.

Artist Ming Yi Sung Zaleski‘s nude figures created an uproar in 2005 when they were shown in the lobby of a downtown office building. She was asked to remove her work from the lobby show, “Not the Knitting You Know,” following complaints.

From The Times-Herald Record

I think the fig leaves are actually more scandalous than the original art. I dunno about you, but I’d feel a lot less sleazy hanging out with fabric folks au naturel than I would if I cruised up to a giant crocheted doll and lifted its leafy panties to check out its junk.

Not that feeling dirty would stop me. If I lived in D.C., I’d be bringing large groups of friends along for frenzies of fig leaf-investigation. It would be hilarious, admit it.

More from Not the Knitting You Know

Jacquelyn Martin, Associated Press

More from “Not the Knitting You Know,” now with fig leaves to protect you from oddball large-scale amigurumi, the worst kind of sexual predator.

Actually, the artist’s work is funny and bright and shows a fascination with sexual identity and a deep mastery of crocheting in three dimensions. Of course, with my crafter’s eye, when I look at the gallery photos, all I can think is “Wow, that’s some really amazing shaping” and “Man, I can’t even soldier my way through a sweater. How the hell does she do it?”

And if crochet boobies aren’t your thing, check out the Fish Out of Water, a giant four-legged rainbow fish!

Gimme a “YAY!” and a dead cat!

Dead Kitty hatOK, so I’m a month late spotting this, but check out this hat over at Knit, Drink, Knit, Drink made with the Dead Kitty design!

Can I just say “Yay”! Normally I’d nerd out about “Isn’t the Internet cool because we can share ideas, blah blah blah,” except I’ve been saying that for ten years and even I get tired of it. But no way would I get tired of seeing my ideas running loose! It’s an amazing feeling — like raising a wild animal and letting it go and seeing if it’ll survive on its own.

Not that dead cats are alive, but you get the idea.